So, you have just graduated with a music degree and are looking through your options?
You want a job related to music where you will get paid for doing something you’re passionate about. You want a creative career and a regular income.
If composition is something you love then you may have given up the idea of become a composer with tales of the difficulty of finding work and the poor rates of pay. While that can be the case, it certainly doesn’t have to be.
Since 2000, the global entertainment industry has tripled in size. All forms of entertainment use music and somebody has to write it, so this has meant an enormous surge in demand for music. That said, the supply has also increased dramatically with a lot of people chasing the jobs, but for well trained entrepreneurial composers, there is a good living to be made. While everybody immediately thinks of scoring Hollywood movies, the industry is so much larger than just film, and many other niches offer much, much better chances of paying the rent.
The popular misconception is that music graduates struggle to find work. That isn’t true but their employment destinations are not the obvious ones that people expect. Here are four possible routes to employment that you might not have considered.
Library Music Composer
While almost everyone knows Hans Zimmer, less known are the thousands of other composers working in dozens of different areas of the industry leading relatively well paid, creatively fulfilling lives. I’m talking about the people who write the production music for example, music you hear a dozen times a day behind TV shows, adverts, on the radio and internet. Every note of that music has been paid for and written by somebody. A lot of it comes off the shelf from huge online music libraries like Audio Networks or Audio Jungle. The business model varies but in every case usage of library music is continuing to rise year on year and composers are being paid. Indeed, many of the best paid composers you’ve never heard of work in library music.
Now the completely freelance life isn’t for everyone so why not look at…
Video Game Sound Designer
Employment in video games is growing at 10% a year. Every breath, footstep, car crash and explosion has to be created by somebody, telling stories through sound and skilfully implemented to work seamlessly and interactively with the game play. This is the work of the sound designer, men and women who work as part of the audio team on video games. Most sound designers have a background in music and use the same tools that you do. They work with music technology like Pro Tools and REAPER to craft the sounds that bring the game play alive. It’s an enormously creative job. Most sound designers are hired on contracts that last between a couple of weeks and several years so there is a lot more stability than working as a pure freelance. A lot of sound designers also provide music for video games and the duel role of composer/sound designer is increasingly popular.
Most films and many TV series will use a music editor and with the rise of library music (see our first paragraph!) music editing is a key skill in modern media production. The skills are very similar to that of the film or TV composer and many music editors have a second life as media composers as well. You need to develop a strong sense of how music works with picture and the way in which stories are told through music. You also need excellent technical and musical skills to seamlessly make a three-minute cue fit effortlessly into a 30 second spot. It’s certainly competitive with lots of people chasing the most prestigious jobs but work is out there and music editing is a very useful skill to have if you want to work in TV production, as a composer’s assistant or as a composer.
The music Business (capital B) is all about music publishing.
The record companies do so much more than just sell records. Indeed, they hardly sell records any more with most music on streamed services like Spotify and Apple music. The big five music companies have huge music publishing departments. These are the places where music licencing deals are thrashed out, royalties are tracked down and collected, partnerships struck with TV, film and games production companies. With a love of music and an eye for detail, many music graduates end up with well paid careers in music publishing. A regular income, a creatively satisfying job and a fair bit of security is not to be sniffed at.
These are just four of the many possible destinations music graduates move onto. Yes, many go into teaching and some end up playing on cruise liners and a few lucky and talented individuals find work in large orchestras but the majority make their own luck and find creatively satisfying work in media production or a related field.
If you are looking for ways to make your music into business, take a look at our Music for the Media course and propel your career in music. If you have any questions about any of our courses at ThinkSpace Education, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.